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BBC’s licence fee is harder and harder to justify: John Whittingdale

MUMBAI: BBC’s licence fee is becoming harder and harder to justify given changes in the media, according to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The MPs have suggested every household could pay a new compulsory levy instead.
The Culture, Media and Sport select committee said that the corporation’s broadcasting is not “brave enough” and it should stop trying to do “something for everyone”.

It suggested that spending on commercial shows which are of little public service interest should be cut, amid criticism of the BBC for buying the rights to shows like ‘The Voice’.

In response the BBC issued a statement saying, “This report confirms the importance of the BBC in national life and recommends maintaining and modernising the licence fee, something we have said is necessary. We’re grateful to the committee for endorsing our record for efficiency and maintaining the quality of programmes and services, and note members overwhelmingly voted against moving to a subscription funding model.”

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said: “In the short term, there appears to be no realistic alternative to the licence fee, but that model is becoming harder and harder to justify and sustain.”

In light of changing technology and audience habits, the committee said “we do not see a long-term future for the licence fee in its current form”.

Any “profound changes” – such as abolishing the licence fee – should not be rushed, the report said. But it did say the BBC “must prepare for the possibility of a change in the 2020s.

“We recommend that as a minimum the licence fee must be amended to cover catch-up television as soon as possible,” the report added.